Pole Position: Polestar Offers Software Upgrade With 68 Horsepower

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

We’ve all seen the jokes about stickers or go-faster stripes adding 5 horsepower to your car. Hey, it looks faster, right? These days, it’s possible to make some cars much speedier than when you brought it home – without ever cracking the hood release. Software upgrades, it seems, are the new underdrive pulleys and shorter gears of this new era of electric vehicles.

Polestar, in case you’ve forgotten, is the Swedish performance EV brand with don’t-say-it ties to Volvo. Today, it announced a newly-available software upgrade for its Long-Range Dual-Motor Polestar 2, one which boosts the vehicle’s power output to 476 all-electric ponies and 502 lb-ft of torque. Those are improvements of 68 and 15, respectively, over a stock vehicle. Acceleration from 0-60 mph should drop to a hair over 4 seconds, says Polestar, with the additional thrust primarily felt at speeds between 45 and 80 mph. 

In other words, hauling out to pass that slow coach on the interstate will be noticeably more rapid. Apart from increasing the car's power and torque, the performance software upgrade also changes the pedal mapping. Left unsaid is the effect frequent sampling of these new ponies will have on range, if at all. In fact, Polestar asserts the newfound power does not affect Polestar 2's energy consumption, suggesting the total driving range on a full battery will not change after the download. Also part of the software upgrade is a launch control feature which should slingshot your Polestar 2 towards the horizon controllably but dramatically.

This upgrade is the first time Polestar has leveraged software tuning to an electric car. Since the upgrade is purely based in lines of software code via an over-the-air (OTA) download, this boost in performance can be downloaded directly to the vehicle without a trip to a Polestar service center – which, it must be said, Polestar refers to as ‘service points’. The upgrade is permanent and comes with a one-time price tag of $1,195. This is light years better than a subscription service in which one needs to re-up every year to keep their Super Cruise or heated seats or any of the increasing number of features that are being turned into monthly recurring revenue streams for OEMs.

On the surface, this seems like a good deal. Your author has, in the past, spent far more than twelve hundred bucks chasing a few measly horsepower. A guarantee of 68 fresh horses, without the need to get yer hands dirty, at a reasonable price and including launch control? Sounds like a win to us - and beats a 5+hp sticker hands down.

[Image: Polestar]

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Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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5 of 16 comments
  • Jwee Jwee on Dec 07, 2022

    I think it is short sighted and detrimental to the brand. The company should be generous to its locked-in user base, treating them as a resource, not a revenue stream.

    This is what builds any good relationship, generosity to the other partner. Apple does with their products. My iPhone is 5 years old, but I keep getting the latest and greatest updates for free, which makes me feel valued as a customer and adds actual value. When it is time for a new phone, Apple past treatment towards me certainly plays into my decisions (as did BMW's - so long subscription extracting pigs, its been a great 20 years).

    Imagine how much good will and love (and good press) Polestar would get from their user base if they gave them all a "68 fresh horses" update overnight, for free. Brand loyalty would soar (provided their car is capable).

    • See 1 previous
    • MaintenanceCosts MaintenanceCosts on Dec 07, 2022

      Apple does this too. For instance, there's no technical reason why the iPhone 13 can't use the Photonic Engine computational-photography feature of the iPhone 14. The SOC is the same and the physical camera is nearly the same. But the iPhone 14 needed a little something extra to make it worth the additional $100, and Apple decided to make the Photonic Engine that something extra.

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on Dec 07, 2022

    As much as the Orwellian nature concerns me I must say to "add a turbo" as it were to net roughly 20% more bhp for $1,195 doesn't sound too bad. In days of old the V6 -> V8 upgrade was upwards of 20-30% of the base model cost.

    • Jkross22 Jkross22 on Dec 07, 2022

      Those 'chip' upgrades required specialized software and often some hardware changes to engines. This is a software change.... the hardware was already there.

      It's better that it's a 1 time purchase, but should have been rolled out as a $199 thing to endear Polestar to its customers. And maybe even get some to visit a dealer to check out the upcoming models.

  • Ted Lulis Head gaskets and Toyota putting my kids through college👍️
  • Leonard Ostrander Plants don't unionize. People do, and yes, of course the workers should organize.
  • Jalop1991 Here's something EVangelists don't want to talk about, and why range is important: battery warranties, by industry standard, specify that nothing's wrong with the battery, and they won't replace it, as long as it is able to carry 70% or more of its specified capacity.So you need a lot of day 1 capacity so that down the road, when you're at 70% capacity with a "fully functioning, no problem" car, you're not stuck in used Nissan Leaf territory."Nothing to see here, move along."There's also the question of whether any factory battery warranty survives past the original new car owner. So it's prudent of any second owner to ask that question specifically, and absent any direct written warranty, assume that the second and subsequent owners own any battery problems that may arise.And given that the batteries are a HUGE expense, much more so than an ICE, such exposure is equally huge."Nothing to see here, move along."
  • Roger hopkins The car is in Poland??? It does look good tho...
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.